Sunday, June 3, 2012

Giving Trees of Haida Gwaii

For eight weeks, from March till May 2012, the students of four classes (Miss Karrow, Miss Jung, Mr. Lagasse and Mr. Reid) were part of the Giving Trees of Haida Gwaii art project.
Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary School is surrounded by forests and a trail that leads to old growth Cedar and Spruce trees and an eagle nest. This area formed the inspiration for the Giving Trees of Haida Gwaii project.

Each class was assigned a tree to work with for the period of the art project. Miss Karrow’s Kindergarten class worked with the Cedar tree, Miss Jung’s class learned about the Spruce tree, Mr. Lagasse’s class explored Hemlock and Mr. Reid’s class had Alder trees as their focus.

Students had the opportunity to learn about native uses and life cycles of the trees on a guided hike by Linda Tollas, Interpretation Officer at Parks Canada. They learned how the trees are part of an unbroken, interdependent circulation of water, air, plants and beings.

The students worked with Kiki to explore and express their connection to the earth, through individual painting exercises.

Each week they combined meditation, yoga and art to develop sensitivity to the natural world and access their creative source

Childs pose

The students were introduced to three-dimensional felt making by creating seeds out of raw wool fibres, wrapped around a rock. Then with warm soapy water and friction (rubbing), the wool shrinks and the fibres interlock, creating a solid fabric.

Watering the seeds

The next week students rolled wool into felted roots to be incorporated into their large felt mural. Here they are laying out the roving for the roots
Rolling the roots

The students created stories and sketches for their trees.

An important part of the art process is making design and composition choices.
After listening to the stories and looking at all the sketches, one main sketch per class was created as a guide for the large felt murals.

The students created ‘pre-felt’ details for the large felted murals. Pre-felt is a partial felted piece, that can easily be incorporated in larger felt pieces.

Wool laid out for Pre-felt

Then at last we created the large felted murals. Two to three students at a time would work with Kiki to lay out the wool, and create the design of the felt mural.

Working with pre-felt in the large mural

Then a group of students would help with the wetting and rubbing of the pieces.

We rolled the piece in a large bamboo curtain

We went into the janitors room to shrink the piece some more, squeezing and agitating in a large bucket.

Finally the water would be wrung out of the piece and it would be laid out flat to dry.

Felt Mural, ‘Young Cedar Tree in Spring’, by Kindergarten class, Miss Karrow

Felt mural, ‘Spruce Forest in Summer’, by Grade 1, Miss Jung

Felt mural, ‘Old Hemlock in Fall’, by Grade 4/5/6, Mr Lagasse

Felt Mural, Young and Old Alder in Winter, by Grade 6/7, Mr. Reid

For a wonderful video of this project, created by ArtStarts in Schools, please check:

This project was made possible with funding by:
Artstarts (BC Arts Council, Vancouver Foundation)
Opus Art Supplies
Haida Gwaii Arts Council

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